Senate President Vicente Sotto III was sought for his comments on reports that China has  taken the “unusual step”  of registering trademarks over hundreds of land features scattered throughout disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Sen. Leila de Lima said the recent occupation of Julian Felipe reef by China’s naval militia’s fake fishing boats has revealed the confusion within the Duterte administration whether to treat it as such or to simply ignore it altogether. 

“The former is the position of the officials that matter when it comes to foreign affairs and national defense such as Foreign Affairs Sec. Teddyboy Locsin and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana,” said De Lima. 

“Their apparent strong opposition to the Chinese occupation coincides with five other major incidents transpiring in the region: The entry of the Theodore Roosevelt carrier group into the South China Sea; the second breakout from the first island chain of the Liaoning carrier group from the East China Sea into the Pacific; the increased intrusion of the PLA Air Force into Taiwanese airspace; the declaration of US Secretary of State Blinken reiterating the trigger factors of the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty; and the start of the annual Balikatan exercises of the AFP with American forces in the Pacific,” added De Lima.

On the other hand, De Lima noted that the latter position is held by, among others, the commander of WesCom itself, Vice-admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez and probably the other AFP branch commanders under WesCom. This latter position reflects Duterte’s policy of subservience to China, instead of defending the Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea against a Chinese invasion.

Instead of following the lead of Lorenzana, she said the WesCom commander would rather speak and make excuses for the Chinese Navy missile boats that chased down ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano and her crew. Later, in an apparent turn-around from its WesCom commander’s statement, the AFP awarded Zambrano a token recognition.

“This is how confused this government and its AFP is when it comes to China. Not even the presence of an American carrier force right at China’s doorstep sending signals for China to stand down has consolidated the AFP’s resolve to defend the country and for once, just for once, have the balls to stand up to China,” said De Lima. 

She said, even with Blinken’s declaration, the US aircraft carriers with the US Navy’s latest F35B stealth fighters in the WPS, and the Balikatan exercises on Philippine shores, the AFP apparently cannot shake off its terror over China from Duterte.

This, while the world, including China’s own generals, cautioned Xi Jinping for overreaching in confronting the US and the Philippines in the WPS, Taiwan in the Straits and Japan in the East China Sea, all at the same time and without any ally.

China remains alone, as every western ally, from India to Europe and Australia, Japan and South Korea are sending ships to the South China Sea to send a message to China. 

China will not be allowed to invade Taiwan or take control of the South China Sea.

Because Beijing knows its so-called 9-dash line has no basis in international law, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said it has chosen to use force and deception.

Hontiveros said China ignoring diplomatic protests and pursuing dubious tactics to validate their territorial claims is the best proof that those claims are illegitimate. 

“Let us not allow China to belittle our rights over the West Philippine Sea,” said Hontiveros.

“China thinks she can maybe push smaller countries around but she certainly cannot push around a region united against her, let alone the world. Tayo ang tama; tayo ang nasa katotohanan. China is not backing down, so, all the more, neither should we,” said the opposition senator.